Warning: Some potential "Game of Thrones" spoilers ahead, based on events from the books.
Many moons before the season five premiere, "Game of Thrones" fans who consider themselves book readers first were warned by George R.R. Martin himself that the upcoming round of episodes would veer away from his source material, thanks to the show catching up with certain storylines, and surpassing some in other cases. And if those fans didn't believe the hype before, they certainly do now.
In last night's second season five episode, "The House of Black and White," fans watched as several storylines from the books underwent serious makeovers for the show. For instance, Jaime Lannister and Bronn of the Blackwater's mission to Dorne is completely a show-only invention; in the books, Jaime takes it upon himself to command Lannister forces in the Riverlands, while Bronn disappears from the main action to enjoy life with his betrothed Lollys Stokeworth.
Jaime's story eventually sees him crossing baths with Brienne of Tarth again, but that doesn't seem especially likely for the show — and not just because of Jaime's path. Brienne's show story is already vastly different from what she's up to in the books, where she's nowhere close to finding Sansa Stark. On the show, meanwhile, Brienne has had a full conversation with Sansa now, and continues to do what she can to protect the Stark girl, if only from a distance.
Jaime and Brienne's diverging stories (not to mention Littlefinger and Sansa traveling to who-knows-where; the show has officially caught up to their book storylines, so we're either in spoiler territory with them, or wildly diverging from Martin's plans for future books) are the most notable changes last night, but fans aren't snoozing on some of the more minor tweaks, either.
The Night's Watch electing Jon Snow as Lord Commander, for example, only happens in the books after Samwell Tarly hustles his cold little buns off swaying the results in his friend's favor, manipulating the rules of the vote. The show yadda-yadda-yadda'ed its way through those details, but even still, some book-first fans aren't pleased with the "Game of Thrones" writers hitting fast-forward and taking shortcuts — so much so that some fans are threatening to stop watching the show this season.
But not every book-reading fan is disappointed with the changes. There are those who look at Jaime and Brienne's new stories, and see them as improvements over Martin's direction in the books.
Others see the season five changes as an exciting new opportunity to keep even the book-reading crowd on their toes moving forward.
No matter where you land on the issue, the facts are what they are: "Game of Thrones" is switching things up in season five. With some exceptions, the show has mostly stuck to the books through four seasons — but this year, changes are here, with all the fury of a Westeros winter. And if book readers find the season jarring after only two episodes, just wait — there's still eight episodes to go.
Do you think "Game of Thrones" moved too far from the books this year?